The Aksharbrahma-Parabrahma philosophy as revealed by Bhagwan Swaminarayan explains that after He leaves His mortal body, He remains continually present on Earth through Akshar, or the satpurush. The guru parampara have continuously provided satsangis with the guidance and leadership needed to lead a spiritually fulfilling life geared towards redemption and eternal happiness. Bhagwan Swaminarayan identified Gunatitanand Swami as Aksharbrahma many times throughout His life. In a similar manner, successors that followed were identified by their guru. It is in His spiritual successors that Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s legacy lives on in the truest sense.
The successors are not elected or voted in by a committee or board. The spiritual and administrative leadership of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha is held by a gunatit guru defined by his merits. Bhagwan Swaminarayan describes the qualities of such a sadhu in Vachanamrut Gadhada III-27, in which He says, “The attributes of the Sant – being free of lust, avarice, egotism, taste, attachment, etc. – are also described in the scriptures. The Sant who possesses these attributes has a direct relationshipwith God.” He goes on to say in Vachanamrut Sarangpur 10 that, “When one has the darshan of such a Sant, one should realise, ‘I have had the darshan of God Himself.’”
Today, followers of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha believe that Bhagwan Swaminarayan is present on Earth through Mahant Swami Maharaj, and that they are serving God through Mahant Swami Maharaj.